September 28, 2012

Homeschool Journal - 9/28

In my life this week....
We brought in the autumn season!  I love decorating for fall in my home almost as much as Christmas!  This year, my sweet little girls helped me...and actually HELPED!  :)  Miss E (9) has quite the creative knack - a little more daring than I am but still very creative. I would still like to decorate the front porch, but I think that will wait until next week.  

In our homeschool this week...
We have seen great progress in everyone's reading!   With the long summer break, it seems to take a while to get the brain flowing smoothly again. :)  I think things finally began to click again this week!  I have also been encouraged that even though the newness of school is wearing off, and we have just completed  week 5, the kiddos are still enjoying school and are keeping cheerful attitudes (for the most part) as they work!

My favorite thing this week was...
Miss E's English assignment was to choose one of the two poems on her English page to copy in her best handwriting.  She was not too thrilled about the prospect of copying a fairly long poem.  I then remembered how she is thoroughly enjoying our reading of Anne of Green Gables.  I suggested to her that she go to her room and read the two poems with all the expression and drama that Anne would have.  She smiled and said, "I can do that, Mom.  I bet I can do ever better than Anne!"  The entire time I was teaching Mr. A phonics, we could hear the very dramatic readings.  Miss E came out of her room smiling and ready to copy one of the poems, and she even chose the longer one because she "liked the way it sounded!"

What's working/not working for us...
We have begun struggling with getting all of our work done before noon.  I usually finish all but one subject.  I am going to try to switch a couple of things around in our schedule because I do not like being rushed, but I also do not like skipping our quiet hour to do school.  I am hoping these changes will help out.
I'm grateful for...
My kiddos. I love looking for the good in them and finding so many, many things.  It seems like during the routines and schedules, I tend to correct and hand out consequences much of the time.  That's OK.  It comes with the mom territory, but it is a wonderful thing to change the perspective and realize how very blessed I am with the gifts God has given me.  I'm thankful for Miss E who loves to help and is always thinking of things she can do for others.  I'm thankful for Mr. A who is a diligent worker and loves to be treated like a man.  I'm thankful for Mr. G who has such a sweet heart and a tremendous desire to do right but tends to get in the most trouble!  He crawled into my lap this afternoon and told me in a most sad voice, "Mom, I'm just going to make you a letter for your birthday and a letter for Christmas and a letter for Easter because I don't have any money to buy you a present."  Doesn't that make your heart melt? :)  I'd take a letter from that little boy over any present in the world!  I'm thankful for Miss M who is always full of smiles and giggles and a little mischief.  She is testing the waters of independence at the cost of my sanity right now, but that big smile and hug are pretty irresistible.   I'm also thankful for the newbie.  He is such a good little baby - always smiling and making sweet baby noises.  He is beginning to develop a shrill squeal that none of us care too much for, but other than, he's "pretty perfect."

That has been our week - or some of it at least!  We are off to a birthday party for the evening!  Looking forward to spending some time with family!  Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

September 27, 2012

A Just Right Day

I love those days when everything goes just right.  I would love to have a few more of those days when everything goes just right!  :)  Today is one of those days.  School is mostly done, the house is mostly clean, supper is mostly planned, and so I'm mostly on top of things! :)  I have my homemade pumpkin potpourri simmering, beautiful music playing and a cup of coffee in hand enjoying a few quiet moments.  I'm thankful that God gives these days - days to remind me that this work is worth while.  The sacrifice and serving and daily doing of the same things over and over again do pay off.  These days also remind me how much more smoothly life goes when I prepare and plan ahead and do my very best to be organized (a gift that I most certainly do not come by naturally).

The fall is always a perfect time for me to regroup and set new goals.  The Mr. and I have made a list of character qualities that we want to instill into our children this "school year."  It is hard work - such very hard work - but after just a few short weeks, we are seeing some magnificent progress.  It is difficult to be consistent.  It is even more difficult to parent each child in an individual way - praying for wisdom and parenting by faith trusting the Holy Spirit to pull our children's hearts to Him.  These are the things the Mr. and I are working on this fall.  Do we have it down?  No!  Are we the perfect parents with the perfect children?  Just the thought makes me laugh ridiculously loud because that would be an even bigger NO!!!  However, I am thankful for the progress we see, the improvements that have been made, and the character that has been strengthened in our entire family. I am also thankful for the days that God allows us to enjoy the "fruits of our labor."

Today is one of those feel good days.  Today is a day to reserve strength, faith and quiet peace for those days when everything is not just right - for those days when the number one goal is only to make it to the end of the day with everyone alive and hopefully still in one piece (believe me, I have more than I care to admit of those kind of days).  I pray you are blessed with a beautiful fall day full of new resolve, progress and satisfaction.  If not, hang on...God loves to bless us more abundantly than we can ever imagine and in the most unexpected ways and times.  I am certain God has something very special planned for you.

September 22, 2012

Homeschool Journal - 9/22


In my life this week...
I have been trying to get a few extra things done - putting away summer clothes, getting out winter clothes, preparing our wood stove for winter use, and I am hoping to put out my sweet fall decorations today!!!
In my homeschool this week...
We had a fairly routine week of school this week - nothing unusual, just continuing to press on and still enjoying the relaxing school routine that has come through implementing Charlotte Mason's methods in our schooling.  I did introduce the kids to the famous composer Mozart and his work The Magic Flute.  The kids loved listening to the Classical Kids CD, and we are delving into a short biography of Mozart as well as listening to some of his other works throughout the day. So far, the kids have been fascinated by it, and we have heard many new "opera" voices throughout the house! :)  This music mommy is happy!

What's working/not working for us...
I finally enjoyed an entire week of a decently clean house.  A clean house is important to me.  I feel like we cannot learn in a cluttered, dirty area. It's just the way I work, I guess.  I was struggling to keep it all together, and I finally decided last week that I would begin spending Saturdays doing all of the major housecleaning.  This gives me a clean house at the beginning of the week, and then, by assigning every one little clean-ups throughout the week, we were able to maintain it.  It's not the way I wanted to spend each Saturday, but it worked!  I also found the evenings during the week were not as tiring because I was not cramming house chores into every extra minute I had.

Things I'm working on...
I am still working on that thing called self-discipline.  I find it difficult to find the balance between sticking to something for the sake of self-discipline or calling it quits because it just isn't working for us.  For example, our entire household seems to function better when I let the kids sleep until 8 or 8:30, but something inside me keeps saying I'm raising lazy children if I don't help them learn how to get up earlier.   I also fell very short in several of my goals this week due to lack of self-discipline.  I am thankful that God is not finished working in me yet, and that, with His grace, I will keep improving.

I'm reading...
I am still reading in the 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge, and I am still...behind.  I have decided to stick with it and even if I am not able to finish it in 90 days, I will finish as much as I can in 90 days.  I also just began reading  A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola.  I have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed it!  It is a much easier read than I was expecting it to be.  I have only read the first few chapters, but I feel it is going to be extraordinarily helpful in further establishing our Charlotte Mason schooling.
I'm cooking...
My father-in-law planted a summer garden this year, and even though he did all the work himself, he has been so generous in sharing their abundance of tomatoes (and other yummies).  I made a delicious lasagna with those home-grown tomatoes and have also cooked and frozen a couple of batches of my mother-in-law's famous spaghetti sauce!  We're soaking up the Italian food here! :)

I'm grateful for...
This week I am most thankful for my sweet Mr.  Even though he believes I bring most of my problems, dilemmas and stresses upon myself (and he is right), he always helps me out of them.  By Friday, I was just plain exhausted.  The newbie has been cutting teeth and not sleeping well at night.  At 10:30 AM, the house was still not in order, the newbie had been screaming all morning, the other children were fussing at each other, and my little world was falling apart!!!  I gave the Mr. a very rare call over to work (he works just next door and has a flexible job, but I try hard not to take advantage of that).  He came home, put all the children back in order and even took the newbie to work with him for the rest of the morning/early afternoon!!!  Once we got the house in order, the kids and I finished school in 1 1/2 hours!!!  Maybe I should look into someone keeping the newbie while I teach! (I still laugh every time I remember the lady asking me who would care for my little ones while I was teaching the older ones!) I definitely am thankful for the Mr. who helps me - all the way from separating the frozen hamburger patties (which I worked on for 10 minutes with no success!) to taking the kids out so I can have a little space!  I love that man!

I'm praying for...
This week the kids and I each shared the one big thing we need to work on - self-discipline for me; attitude for another; getting along with a brother for another; not whining for one; and self-control for the last (not in any order, just in case you try to identify :) ).  We are all praying the newbie quickly cuts his teeth! :)  We found Bible verses for each problem we need to work on, and we are all praying for each other in these specific ways.  

A quote to share...
Be sure that your children each day have something or someone to love, something to do, something to think about. ~A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
I am off to clean the house from top to bottom and possibly put out my fall decorations, but best of all I have a date with a wonderful man tonight!!! :)  Happy Weekend!

September 21, 2012

Thinking on God's Holiness - Part 2

Yesterday's post dived into the subject of God's holiness and asked the question "Have God's expectations for His people have changed since the Old Testament?"  I have come to the conclusion that God is as holy as He was 5,000 years ago because God never changes.  I do not believe His expectations for His people to live differently from the rest of the world have changed.  We ended yesterday with the sobering reminder that Christians have become so afraid of what the world thinks of us until we no longer separate ourselves from it.  Christians DO NOT WANT to be different anymore.  What are God's expectations for the New Testament Christian?   I have been studying this throughout the summer because I needed some answers for myself.

First of all, I believe it is important to point out that God works on the inside first

 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

The Bible clearly teaches that what is in our heart will eventually come out through our words and actions.  Christians whose constant thoughts are of our holy God, our great Creator, our suffering Savior, and our sinful ways will constantly be bringing our thoughts and actions under control so that they will not displease or shame our Savior in any way.  A Christian whose focus has become the pleasures of world and self will not be as concerned that his outward actions separate him from the world who so hates the Savior.  He may try to be a good person, but he is not striving to be truly without sin in an effort to be completely, as much as is possible, like Jesus.

Once the Holy Spirit begins working on the inside, there are many commands given in the Bible for Christians to follow.  These are not requests; they are commands.  We live in a world of overwhelming information, and we all have developed a "take some, leave some" philosophy as we sift through it all. In reality, that is the only way our brains can process everything.  However, the Bible is not a "take some, leave some" book.  If we are Christians, we must take everything - literally and wholeheartedly - and apply it to our lives in every way.  Do I do this?  Sadly, no!  I try - desperately, I try, but we live in a world bound by sin, and we ourselves, even though we have been bought by Jesus Christ, still fall into the temptations of the world and our own flesh.  This takes us back to the heart.  God sees our true desires.  He knows where we long to be.  He can see whether or not our goal and focus is to become like Him.  Are we doing our part?  Are we obeying the commands God gives us - commands such as not conforming to this world but renewing our minds (Romans 12:2), thinking only of true, honorable, pure, lovely, excellent things (Philippians 4:8), loving God with all our hearts (Matthew 22:37), denying ourselves that we may follow Him completely (Luke 9:23). Are we allowing God to change us on the inside in such a way that it cannot help but change us on the outside too?

In all of this, please do not misunderstand.  We cannot separate ourselves from the world so much that we cannot reach out to them.  Absolutely not!!! As a matter of fact, I believe we should make opportunities to be with those who are unsaved so that we can present our lives as a living witness of God's grace and salvation. But here is the truth, friends.  THE WORLD WANTS US TO BE DIFFERENT.  THE WORLD NEEDS US TO BE DIFFERENT!!!  We see all around us people who are searching for the answers to life. Many of them have "everything" but are still empty.  The best looking actress in the world who has spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours on her appearance is still left broken-hearted when her husband leaves her for another woman.  People who have millions of dollars waste it on drugs and alcohol and end up spending most of their lives in and out of rehabs.  Why do we want to be like them?  How can we tell them about our Holy God if we are living in all the muck of sin with them? Why do we allow our lives to become shallow while pursuing things that will last such a short time in comparison to all of eternity.  When we finally see our Savior, we will all wish we had done more to bring glory to His name.  

I am thankful for God's forgiveness, for His love and for His mercy, but let's not deceive ourselves into thinking that the Bible is full of options for us, or that holiness and separation from the world is a choice.  It is a command, and it is a command that holds our Savior's name at stake. 

God, help me not to trample your grace by living life my way.  Help me not to waste this time you have given.  Help me not to shame or disgrace your Holy Name.  Help me always to remember the sinner I am and the great and Holy God You are.  Thank you for your love.  Thank you for your mercy, and thank you for Your grace and Holy Spirit that enables me to be holy as You are.

September 20, 2012

Thinking on God's Holiness

As I have been reading through the Old Testament in the 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge, I have been overwhelmed by God's holiness.  To me, that seems to be the attribute of God that stands out the most.  God was very explicit with details and instructions as he laid out the laws for the people of Israel, and although there was much mercy shown to them, there were many instances of swift and even final punishment for their disobedience to those laws.  Reading the high (and seemingly impossible) standards God set for Israel made me think further into what we Christians call the "Age of Grace."  The Bible clearly teaches that God never changes.  So, have His standards for holiness changed?  Have His expectations of His people changed?

Here's the famous first argument...the law was given to the people of Israel to keep before the Messiah came; therefore, they do not apply to us now.  This is true, and I do not believe we need to keep the laws given in order to receive salvation.  The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is through grace alone by faith in Christ Jesus alone. However, I am looking at the ATTRIBUTE of God's holiness.  Has it changed? Does God no longer expect those who have received His gift of salvation to be different from those who haven't?   God gave those many laws to Israel for the specific purpose of setting them apart as His chosen people.  In other words, He wanted other nations to have no question as to who Israel's God was.  He also says over and over that Israel was to be holy as He is holy - once again showing the desire God has for His people to reflect Himself. 

Now for my loaded question...Are God's standards and expectations for Christians different today than they were in the Old Testament.  I don't think so.  GOD DOES NOT CHANGE!!!  He is still a holy and righteous God.  I believe with all my heart that God is giving us this Age of Grace as an opportunity to glorify Him even more through the FINISHED WORK of Jesus Christ, but we Christians are squandering it and misusing it.  There are too many Christians, myself included, who want to be as much a part of the world as we can be and still be a Christian.  We live in a time where we have the opportunity to show our love for God by the choices we make.  And , Christians, we are clearly trampling the grace of God by our lack of holiness in our own personal lives.  This sounds so harsh, I know.  It is something I have been wrestling with all summer long.  I have begun a post like this several times and not finished it because I don't want to be labeled a legalist or looked at as  "holier than thou."  That is not my desire at all in writing this.  It has saddened my heart as I've looked at myself through the eyes of God's holiness.  I have used the fear of being labeled as an excuse to become more like the world instead of pursuing the holiness of God, and I am not alone.  It is has become an epedemic that is spreading quickly through individual Christians, into families and has already very much overcome our churches. 

My next loaded question....What are God's expectations for Christians in this Age of Grace?  What standard of holiness does He have for Christians today?  Tomorrow, I will share what I have discovered as I have searched this out for myself.  Until then, will you think on this thing of God's holiness?  What do you believe about this awe-inspiring attribute of God? 

September 18, 2012

A Delicious (and Easy) Cake for Fall

It's been a couple of weeks since a Tummy Tempting Tuesday Recipe has actually appeared here!  Hopefully, this recipe will be extra good and help to make up for the absence. :)  This week is BREAK OUT THE FALL STUFF WEEK at my house!  In honor of that and the fact that apple season is upon us, I will share my very most favorite fall cake.  It's easy, moist, yummy and makes the entire house smell deliciously good while it's baking.  Hope you enjoy!


2 1/2 cups flour                                                                                                1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt                                                                                                      1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda                                                                                            1 cup pecans
2 cups sugar                                                                                                     1 cup liquid Crisco*
3 eggs                                                                                                              3 cups apples, peeled &

*I have used vegetable oil instead of liquid Crisco.

Mix all ingredients together and bake approximately 70 minutes at 325*. 

How simple is that?  That's my kind of cake!!! :)  Happy FALL to you!

September 14, 2012

Homeschooling Journal - 9/14


In our homeschooling this week...
I feel like we accomplished a lot!  My two kindergartners have learned ALL FIVE vowels!!!  In just a couple of weeks, they will be reading blends!!!  I am so excited for them, and I love seeing their excitement whenever I remind them that all of this hard work is teaching them to read.  Miss E (4th grade) let her imagination run wild with a story she wrote about a secret room she found in her house!  Mr. A (2nd grade) is doing an excellent job in his penmanship and absolutely beams for a mile when I praise him for his effort!

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...
This is something I am still learning myself, but the best advice I read this summer was to not make your homeschool become a public or even a private school setting.  Live your life and bring learning with you everywhere.  It has been liberating to know that I do not have to follow a curriculum for everything we do.  I can stop and linger on something we are enjoying or on something we do not yet understand without feeling the pressure of growing behind.  I cannot teach my children everything they need to know in life, but I can give them a love of learning and instill in them the character to pursue good.  That will take them much farther in life than making sure they complete 170 lessons each year.  (I still plan out our year and try to stick to the goals made, but I am learning to relax and enjoy the journey!)

I am inspired by...
The missionary biographies we read, the imagination of Anne of Green Gables, my children who are so quick to forgive, the beautiful weather we have had this week.

My favorite thing this week was...
The kids and I took a walk on a park trail.  I gave them each a brown paper bag and told them to fill it full of interesting things.  We all had great fun looking for interesting and unusual things.  We found changing leaves, pine cones,  berries, mushrooms and much more.  It was a relaxing time but still a wonderful opportunity full of learning.

Things I'm working on...
I am striving to be more self-disciplined in everything!!!  Our school schedule, quiet time, meal preparation, name it....I probably need to work on it!  It is definitely hard work, but the results are rewarding!

I'm cooking....
Almost every family I know eats cereal for supper every now and then...except ours (insert sigh)!  The Mr. would be absolutely appalled if I even suggested it. I know this because I did...once!  The closest I can get to cereal for supper is cooking a big breakfast.  Tonight, we're having waffles, sausage, eggs and fried potatoes.  It's more work than cereal but so much tastier...although I still wouldn't be opposed to the occasional bowl of cereal for supper!

I'm grateful for...
A much better week than last week! :)

September 13, 2012

Why We Complain

I read the books of Exodus and Numbers together in about 6 days.  I have never read through them that quickly before, and I was left absolutely astonished by the Israelites lack of faith and their quickness to forget the goodness of God.  I know all the stories, but there was something about taking the time to read it all consecutively, that helped me grasp the reality of how many times God provided for the children of Israel in a miraculous way, but then THE VERY NEXT DAY, they were once again wailing to Moses about how he had brought them from the wonderful land of Egypt to die in the barren wilderness.  How quickly they forgot the hardships of Egypt!  Even more tragic, was how quickly they forgot the goodness and faithfulness of God.

So, you already know what's coming, don't you?  We are the same!!!  It smacked me once again right between the eyes as I was reading through these books.  God will do something for me, and within an hour, I begin to wonder how I am ever going to manage this problem or handle this situation or fix this dilemma.   Why do I - why do we - do this over and over again?

In my life, I have noticed that I forget to look for and see God's goodness in the little things in my life.  I am so busy waiting for him to work in a big miraculous way that I forget to see Him in the every day little things.  Without God, I would not have the beautiful sunshine, or the enjoyment of reading a book with my kiddos, or the convenience of an oven to cook my food in.  When we begin to look at the little gifts God gives us every single day, we realize we have nothing worth complaining about.

I have also realized that, just like the children of Israel, I often remember things differently from what they really were.  I remember the good of all the past experiences but not the effort that came with it.  If it wasn't so sad, it would be almost humorous reading the memories that the Israelites had of Egypt.  They made it sound like a wonderful place to be instead of the place bondage that it had truly become.  I cannot laugh at them though because I do the same thing.  I forget all too quickly the problems or pain that came along with certain experiences. Not that we do not need those times.  They grow us and stretch us and prepare us for what is ahead, but we must be careful to remember that God's goodness and faithfulness is with us in every situation.

At the root of all complaining is the sin of selfishness, and as much as I hate to admit it, I am an extremely selfish person.  When I begin to look at myself and my circumstances, I can always find something to complain about.  It is only when I look at the character of God and the example of His Son Jesus that I begin to uncover the extraordinary graces and mercies that I have been blessed with.  It is only when I begin to reach out and serve others that I realize how unbelievably blessed I am.  The more I reach out in love to others, the more I realize there is always someone who is hurting more than I am, who has a harder story than I do. Many times, it is those people who put me to shame because they are able to find good in the difficult things God has placed in their lives.  

After reading the stories of the children of Israel, I challenged myself to go an entire day without complaining.  It was difficult!!!  It becomes such a habit that is easy to fall into.  To chase away my complaining, I found myself continually asking, "What good thing in this can I thank God for?"  It's amazing how the day changed once my focus changed.  I think I'll try it again tomorrow! :)

September 10, 2012

The Beginning of Inspiring Quotes

I love that I can look back through my blog and read about the adventures that have happened in my life and remember the things God has been working in my heart about.  It has been a great way to keep a record of small things...and it's all in one place and fairly organized!  So, I think today I shall start a new topic on my blog entitled "Inspiring Quotes."  I know it's not an extraordinary title, but I'm soooo sleepy right now and cannot think of anything better.  So...."Inspiring Quotes" it is.  I have a bajillion (is that how you spell it?) quotes.  I keep some of them on a ring in my quiet time box so that anytime I become discouraged, I can flip through them and be reminded of the difference I can make in someone's life if I will just keep going a little farther and keep pushing a little harder.  I would encourage you to make one of these rings or even just keep a small notebook with a few favorite quotes in it.  Outside of God's Word, it is one of my greatest encouragements!

My first quote that I will share is one that I just found. Our family has been reading about the missionary Gladys Aylward (I must confess I had never heard of this amazing missionary until I received her biography in a set of history books I purchased from ebay!). She was a courageous little lady who went to China all by herself in the 1930's without even the backing of a mission board!  She encountered many adventures as a single white woman in the very remote Chinese villages, but she always met them undauntedly! I can no longer in good conscience complain about being tired after a long day with my five kiddos because she cared for TWO HUNDRED...yes TWO HUNDRED...orphans by herself!!!  Because of her sacrificial and unconditional service to the Chinese, she saw many, many saved, and everyone cared greatly for her.  The ruler of a Chinese village where she spent many years of her service invited her to a banquet.  Many other officials and upstanding citizens were there.  At the end of the banquet, the ruler stood and in front of everyone said this:

"I have seen all that you are and all that you do, and I would like to become a Christian like you."

It makes me cry just to write it!  It also makes me ask if I am living a life that would make someone say that to me!  I pray so.  This makes me want to serve more unselfishly, sacrifice more greatly, live more godly.  I don't know that I will ever be able to have the impact that Gladys Aylward had, but it is my prayer that at least one person will see Christ in me and want to be a Christian too!


September 7, 2012

Homeschool Journal - 9/7

We have been ultra busy!!!  We had the opportunity to host the stomach flu in our home last week - stayed a good three days with us! :(  There was quite a bit of catching up to do from that!  I also teach a Wednesday night class at our church for the 1st through 6th graders.  We began our new year this week, and so I spent any available time preparing new materials and decorating our new room.  Overall, it was a tremendously busy first half of the week, but it was worth it to see all the kiddos having so much fun on Wednesday evening!

Because of the above busyness, we have had a "light" week in homeschooling.  Miss E and Mr. A have continued their Math, English/Phonics, Reading and Writing, but we have left the rest for next week.  Miss G and Miss M have had their kindergarten only 3 days this week instead of 5.   But that's OK...that's why we homeschool! :)

I LOVE the homeschooling method we are using this year.  We have switched from using the very traditional ABeka Book curriculum to using the Charlotte Mason method. I have used as my  primary guide. I do feel like I am in the middle of a great big experiment all by myself and quite often think I am in over my head.  I would love to hear from others (particularly those who have elementary age kiddos) who use this method.  What does your schedule/routine look like?  What are some resources/websites you  use? Where do you find your books?

We were able to spend Labor Day (Monday) at our County Fair - an annual tradition here!  It was full of great food, lots of rides, and even more standing in lines waiting for the rides.  Despite the lines, it was a wonderfully fun day!

I am reading through the Bible in 90 days.  It has proven to be a bigger challenge than I thought.  I got behind last week while our family was down with the stomach flu and partying at the fair (two completely separate events - I assure you!), but I am making great progress this week and am hoping to be caught up by Sunday.  I have enjoyed reading the Bible this way and am finding that it is providing a fascinating perspective.  I'm also finding that some of the details of the familiar stories are not the way I thought they were! :)

The fact that I can be with my kiddos all day.  There are so many things we get to experience in the everydayness of life - the countless conversations we have, the even more countless number of  questions I get answer, so many jokes we can laugh at together, the mistakes I can correct in the way I feel will best help my child.  The best thing is....I get to be the one to do all those things.  I'm so thankful for those opportunities that surround me everyday.

This week has been a challenging one because of the extra busyness within it.   There have been several days this week when I wanted to wear a sign that said, "It's 5 PM.  Mom has closed for the day."   As you well know, that's not really an option. (I know this sounds quite contrary to what I just said in the above paragraph, but both are true!) I am praying for more energy and a lot more wisdom, a restful weekend and a fresh start next week!  I'm so thankful for those fresh starts, aren't you?

What about you?  What has your week been like? 

Happy Friday!


September 5, 2012

Be Still and Know...


A sweet reminder for one of those days when everything needs to be done, but nothing is being done;
For when life becomes overwhelming and too complicated;
For when you are tired and cannot seem to go any farther;
For when you need to just sit and have a good cry;
For when you realize that you have spent the entire morning focusing on yourself instead of your Savior.

That's when God says...."Be still, and know that I am God." Rest in Him today! After all, HE IS GOD!

Wishing you a peaceful day in Christ in the midst of all the busyness.

September 3, 2012

Children Can Serve, Too!

Our family is off to experience one more day of the county fair!!!  We LOVE the county fair here.  It really is second only to Christmas!  Friday is always animal and rodeo day, and Monday is ride day (as my kiddos call it)!   Last year, Miss E entered a dress that she sewed by herself (with directions from Grandma) into the fair.  She was SOOOO excited to win first place, but she saw that the dress next to hers had received  a REALLY BIG ribbon called Best of Class!  Her goal since she saw that was to make a dress that would win Best of Class. 

She and Grandma worked for several weeks on her dress this summer.  Grandma helped her pick a pattern that was quite challenging, and Miss E had to learn several new techniques.  They even sewed a hat to go with the dress!  By Friday, Miss E was dying to find out how she had done.  She ran ahead of us to the building and came back a minute later and said, "Well, I got first place, but that's all.  I did have fun making the dress with Grandma, but I wish I could have gotten Best of Class."  We walked into the building to ooh and aahh over her first place ribbon, and as I walked up to her dress, I saw underneath the first place ribbon....the BEST OF CLASS ribbon!!!  She was in such a hurry, she never saw it!  When I showed it to her, I thought she might cry!  She told me she had shivers all over her! :)  She did such a wonderful job and was so enthusiastic about learning.  What an amazing little girl God has blessed me with!  

I can't wait to see how God may use Miss E's sewing skills in the very near future!  We have been talking about making some baby blankets for babies who are sick or are born into very poor families.  As a mom, I want to encourage my children to develop the talents and skills God has given them, but more than that, I want them to find ways to use those talents and skills now to bless and serve others!  They do not need to wait until they are teenagers or even adults.  God can use them now!  If we do not teach our children to serve God and others now, when will they learn?  This is part of the responsibility we as parents have to our children and to God.   


* Always let your children help around the house.  Make a big deal about it! 
* Continually tell your children what a blessing they are by helping others.  "Miss E, you were such a blessing and help by watching your little brother while I cooked supper.  Thank you for blessing our family that way!"
* Find opportunities (make opportunities) for your family to serve others together.  It might be cleaning the church, cooking a meal, making a thank you card.  Even having company over is a great way to be able to serve others.  We have begun assigning each of our children a task to do the minute our company pulls into the drive.  We have a welcoming committee, a jacket/coat committee, a questioning committee (we'll give one of the older kiddos a couple of polite questions that they may ask), and a drink committee!  They love being on a committee, by the way!  It sounds so important! :)
* As they get older, ask your children how they would like to serve.  Service doesn't always involve things we enjoy, but it is true that God does allow us to use the talents and skills that we enjoy to serve others.
* This is something we are going to do in our family this week: Each person will draw a name of a family member.  They need to write out (or have mom and dad write out) five things they really "like" or appreciate about that person, and then find five ways to serve that person this week.  Mom and Dad are going to participate as well as oversee and help the younger ones.

What are your children's skills and talents?  How can they use them today to help serve someone else? How do you encourage your children to serve?

September 1, 2012

Pursuing Excellence

I remember thinking last Sunday evening on the way home that I had several things I wanted to write about this week.  It's amazing how quickly a stomach bug and only 7 hours of sleep in a 4 day period can quickly dissipate any inspiration you may have had!!!  I think we are all 100% again and very happy to be!  However, I am still experiencing severe writer's block!!!  I have sat down 4 or 5 times to write and keep erasing it all! So, for today, I will leave you with a link to a post from my favorite blog - I Take Joy!  Sally wrote an immensely thought-provoking article entitled "Christians, Addicted to Mediocrity...Why?"  The Mr. and I have been challenging each other in this area because one of the biggest desires for our family is to not settle for the good but to excel to the best!  I encourage you to take just a minute to read this article and then pursue the excellence that Christ exampled for us while He was here on earth.  

Praying you have a wonderful weekend, and by the way....Happy September!!! Can you believe it?